13/01/2012 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me Zeinab Badawi.


Could France be about to lose its triple A credit rating? President


Sarkozy holds crisis talks with ministers, as fears mount that the


downgrade could place further pressure on the eurozone.


Is the Pakistani government on a dangerous collision course with the


military? Growing public tension but government ministers play down


talk of a political crisis. you're referring to the recent


whatever is going on in the country. It will not affect. In democracy we


are in transition. So ups and downs will be there.


Day five of protests in Nigeria over the scrapping of the fuel


subsidy. Now the government makes an offer to the unions. Will it be


enough? Also coming up in the programme,


the increasing danger posed by space debris. The Russian space


craft Phobos-Grunt should come crashing back to earth this weekend


Hello and welcome. The value of the euro has fallen


with more bad news for the eurozone. France is braced this evening for


the possibility that its credit rating may be downgraded by the


Standard & Poor's agency. Nicolas Sarkozy is reported to be in crisis


talks with his ministers ahead of expected announcement. Fears over


the eurozone debt crisis have also been heightened with talks between


Greece and the banks it owes money to breaking down. Our chief


economics correspondent Hugh Pym reports.


2011 was the year to the good for the eurozone and the health of the


single currency. Riots increase other government was facing


crippling debts and tried to impose spending cuts and tensions over how


to safeguard -- safeguard the euro but another blow is looming, the


downgrading of France's credit rating. If they are downgraded, it


will raise the cost of borrowing at France has to pay to markets. Above


Germany and the UK, which have triple-A ratings, and it will be


more difficult to rescue crew eurozone, although it may still be


possible. Here are the key figures from the French economy which have


worried the markets. Government debt is 90% this year. The deficit,


new borrowing, 5.5%. The French government is currently having to


pay more than 3% to borrow, while at the UK is below 2%. If France's


credit rating is downgraded, the impact could be as much political


as economic. Some see the triple A rating as a badge of national


prestige, and are losing it, critics will argue could be seen as


a major blow to President Sarkozy. In a year when he seeking re-


election. Fears that France might be downgraded emerge before


Christmas as Nicolas Sarkozy's relations with David Cameron cold.


They criticised the UK finances. don't want to be given any lessons.


The economic situation in Great Britain is very worrying and from


an economic standpoint, we would prefer to be French and British.


But its front which is firmly under a financial spotlight this evening.


-- France. Speculation that one up ratings agency will make an


announcement, and with talks with private investors and the Greek


government over how to manage the burden having broken down, a


familiar cloud is hovering over the eurozone.


Let's talk more about this. Matthew price joins us. Does this look like


it's going to happen? It's the sense we getting from French


government officials. In the last few minutes, the French agency, AFP,


is reporting yes, indeed, France is being downgraded by Standard & Poor


and it fits with the general assumption, the general words


coming out of Standard & Poor, the ratings agency, in the last few


months, but they put France on a downgrade and add some point,


expected they would do this. Yes, it looks like this is happening.


Matthew, it's not just the fact it's been downgraded. It is the


extent, the amount by which it has downgraded, which is also important


for country. Absolutely. If France get downgraded at the next couple


of hours, by one are not, it is manageable. It is difficult


politically for President Sarkozy. And economically, it will almost


certainly make a change. It will force up the French borrowing rate.


It to probably wouldn't be catastrophic. It did get downgraded


by two notches, you start to get into more uncertain territory, not


just for France, but remember they are one of the key economic backers


of the eurozone's current temporary rescue fund, but BFSS, and France


is the second biggest backer of that fund. Germany is the biggest.


That fund has so far also had a triple A rating. There are those


concerned in Brussels tonight that if France gets downgrade it, so too


will the euro zones temporary bail- out fund, and therefore that, too,


will pile on the pressure. I can say that the wires have confirmed,


according to the French finance minister, France indeed has lost


its triple-A credit. That is indeed quite a blow to the country. It's


not just an economic matter, but huge political tests for President


Sarkozy. Ahead of this, but it's going to have shockwaves throughout


the eurozone that such a major economy in the eurozone has lost


its triple-A rating. Absolutely. The second biggest economy in the


eurozone. One of the biggest economies in the world. Also, not


just economically important within the eurozone, but vitally


politically important as well. President Sarkozy and Angela Merkel


had basically been a leading the way in terms of how Europe gets out


of this mess. I think, what has been interesting, the French have


been trying to bring in austerity measures that they felt they could


get past the public in the run-up to the French elections in April


and May. Measures they felt could get past the French public which


would not be terribly unpopular, which wouldn't necessarily stop


President Sarkozy getting re- elected but the same time, would


satisfy the market and it clear I have not satisfied one of the


ratings agencies. Matthew, thank you very much, with that news that


France has lost its triple A credit rating.


The political temperature in Pakistan is nearing boiling point.


On Monday the ruling party faces a confidence vote. The prime minister


Yusuf Raza Gilani told parliament it had to choose between democracy


and dictatorship. A series of public disputes has brought


relations between the government and the military to an all-time low.


The Supreme Court could also get involved, with a deadline looming


for the government to re-open political corruption cases. Here's


A nation gripped by a political crisis. They have fallen heroes.


The funerals today for two Pakistani policemen. Killed by


militants. As well as battling that enemy, the government here is


locked in conflict with the army and the Supreme Court. At


Parliament, another crisis session. But Pakistan's Interior Minister


insists the government will serve out its full term until 2013.


democracy, we are in a transition. Ups and downs will be there. Yes,


we had a bumpy flight but we will land in a nice way. Aren't you


having a real crisis now with the army? Open speculation of a coup.


would not say crisis, no. A difference of opinion. You can't


say there is a distress going on. That we are not on the same page.


Why are their statement between you and the army so hostile? I think


everybody has a right to explain their position so let's put it in


the normal way. Do you think this government will be in position next


week? I say, in the 2013. Pakistan's Interior Minister is


sending a message that the tension can be diffused and he is adamant


the government will survive, but with the army and government


engaging in Opal verbal warfare, some here are writing of this


administration and are predicting Inside Parliament, an impassioned


speech from Prime Minister Gilani. We have made mistakes, he said.


That doesn't mean a democracy should survive. If the worst comes


to the worst, we will go before the Are the army is on the warpath


because of a memo sent to the Americans last May. Asking for help


to rein in the generals. Pakistan's president of denies he was behind


it. The tanks have not been sent in this time. But experts believe the


army will try to get the government out by other means. Pakistan


Supreme Court might do the job for it. It could disqualify the Prime


Minister over a long-running corruption case. Judges will


consider that on Monday. Joining me now from Oxford is


Professor Ifitikhar Malik, a leading analyst on Pakistani


politics. Collision course clearly between the ruling party and the


military. Do you suppose that we are talking about a true


confrontation here? I think there is an element of confrontation but


I don't think there will be a military coup. The army generals


Pope control Pakistan for most of its history, will try to neutralise


opposition through their own technical weaknesses which are


exposed when Osama bin Laden was murdered. And Iran incident


happened, near the Pakistani naval base. And it became a vulnerable to


attack from the Libyans. And politicians in the government will


try to assert their authority, their control over a military


institution, so there have been imbalances within Pakistan, the


military has been calling the shots. The military does not want to take


the back seat now. Politicians have of course made mistakes, but sadly,


in Pakistan history, which is repeated, I think all the three


major institutions, judiciary, army and the government, have to cool


down the Temmerman, sit back and develop a consensus. We have a vote


of confidence next week. The likely it is early elections.


possibility is the opposition will come around to support the


Government because if this government goes, the People's Party


goes, the opposition will also go in the sense that the military will


then commander position and then it might be another few years before


another political government is established, so politics will be


the loser and the judiciary, and the media and civil society will be


losers, so let's hope history does not repeat itself. Let the system


work, let the system and rectify its own problems. And that the


politicians sit together and resolve these issues through the


parliament. And I think the judiciary should other politicians


resolve this conflict. Thank you very much. The Nigerian government


says its maiden of the to the trade unions after five days of strikes


over the scrapping of a petrol subsidy. The protests have been


suspended for two days to allow more talks with the government.


Tens of thousands of Nigerians have come out in protest since Monday


after the removal of the fuel subsidy led to petrol prices more


than doubling. Mike Wooldridge looks at the challenges facing the


government of President Goodluck Jonathan.


The immediate crisis is over the price of fuel. Nigerians are


protesting against the removal of subsidies that at long kept prices


low. The savings intended for badly needed road improvement and other


public projects. But prices more than doubled overnight. Leading


other costs to soar, as well. For many people, it's the last straw


for the fuel subsidy represent a contribution to daily lives in a


very difficult economic situation for a lot of Nigerians. Removing


the subsidy is something which is seen to simply be quite unfair and


it puts pressure on attack situation for Nigerians. But these


protests come amid an even more serious crisis once again


highlighted the North-South divide. In Africa's most populous nation.


This is the leader of a radical Islamist groups, with its roots in


the Muslim north. Its actions have led some Christians in the north to


flee southwards to where Christians are in the majority. They are


attacking and trying to provoke a tension between Muslims and


Christians for that they have recently attacked churches, killing


Christians for the as falling to Al-Qaeda, I don't think they have


got a link. But I think it is very convenient for them and the


government to claim that there is a link. A politically orchestrated


violence is nothing new but over the last year, and rest has focused


on the North Pole. These are the places where the group has carried


out attacks and amid growing concerns about retaliation,


violence has occurred in the south. Five people were killed in a mosque.


New troubles all round for a nation that wants to be recognised for its


huge economic potential, not least because of its oil. Nigeria has


been pushed to the brink many times I have been joined in the studio by


the Nigerian novelist and journalist, Mohammed Umar. These


talks going on between the trade unions and the government, do you


think we're going to see some kind of compromise emerged, that the


government will have to shift a bit? I don't think so. I think this


is the mother of all deadlocks. For the first time in history we have a


position where the majority of the people are saying they don't like


what is happening and the government is digging in. Even if,


assuming that the Trade Union Congress and the Nigerian Labour


Congress agree to one or two things come with the government, I don't


think the mass protest will stop, so it is one thing for the trade


union representatives to agree with the government, it is another thing


for the people on the ground to stop protesting because if people


started protesting before the trade union representatives took over the


leadership. And the person taking the flak, very much President


Goodluck Jonathan. They have even taken to calling him back look


Jennison in Nigeria. Yes, it is rather unfortunate but someone has


to take the blame. The level of corruption in Nigeria is


unbelievable and it is not the corruption, it is the weird is


displayed. There is no shame in the way they display the corruption.


For example in the 2012 budget they said they would allocate 6.5


million for food, for the President and the Vice President. It is


obscene. So this is tapping into that is content. If the instability


were to get further out of hand, could the army moving? That is an


option, and dangerous scenario because something has to be done.


Whatever happens in Nigeria will not remain in Nigeria. It is a big


country, it cannot afford to fail. 150 million people, something has


to be done to stabilise the situation. Mohammed Umar, thank you


for coming to talk to us about the situation in your native Nigeria.


Staying in Africa, in South Sudan, dozens of people are still being


killed in tribal clashes and thousands are being displayed --


displaced in the latest violence more than 50 people, mostly women


and children, were killed on Wednesday in continuing tit-for-tat


attacks and cattle raids between the Lou Nuer and Murle people in


the state of Jonglei. Many people have fled the violence and are in


urgent need of humanitarian assistance. We report from


neighbouring nine -- neighbouring Nairobi.


These are the people caught in the middle of South Sudan's cycle of


violence, slowly returning home after fleeing for their lives when


the tribe burnt their homes and stole their cattle. The aid


agencies are left to pick up the pieces but with an estimated 60,000


people living in camps or hiding in the bush, officials admit they are


struggling to cope. Today we are operating four helicopters taking


food into Gumarok, Tibor, to assist the population. It is not enough.


We need more and much bigger helicopters that will be able to do


this more efficiently. Ethnic tensions over cattle and territory


in the region have existed for decades but the most recent


violence started last August when Murle fighters raided Lou Nuer


villages, killing 600 people, abducting children and stealing


25,000 cattle. The lunar and retaliated in late December and


early January with as many as 6,000 men attacking the main Murle town


of Tibor. Extra UN peacekeepers and soldiers were rushed to the Urdd --


to the area and it was declared a disaster zone. In the latest


attacks the Murle struck back, raising -- raiding Lou Nuer


villages killing at least 50 people and making off with thousands of


cattle. All the violence is happening in a country which is


just six months old. There was euphoria in March in South Sudan


when it broke away from the north after years of civil war but it was


a messy divorce and coursed tension with the North, which still exists,


mainly over territory, division of money. The government of South


Saddam must work hard to avoid a return to civil war but it must


build bridges between the rival ethnic groups to keep this fragile


country together -- South Sudan. The Chinese speaking world is


gearing up for major political change this year. More than 60


years on from the civil war that split China and Taiwan, both are


facing leadership changes. In the autumn China will see its Communist


Party select a new generation of leaders behind closed doors but


just 100 miles offshore, Taiwan holds open and democratic elections


this weekend. Many in China are watching closely as Damian


Grammaticas reports from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.


Soaring above Taipei, the second tallest building in the world,


built to put Taiwan, so long overshadowed by China, on the map.


Today, its observatory is full of Chinese tourists. Curious about


this island their country claims. Today, what they see is this, and


noisy campaign, democracy happening in the Chinese world just 100 miles


from China's shores. TRANSLATION: I have seen many banners and flags.


It looks really interesting. We don't have anything like this in


China. Taiwan has only just begun welcoming Chinese tourists after


decades of separation. Two million came last year. This is Asia's


biggest store. Christian Dior is building the biggest store in the


world here, targeting the visitors and China's new spending power.


Taiwan's president says the island has to open to China, to recognise


its economic rise. He has made ending decades of its hostility his


priority. What is the importance of that, of building closer relations


with China? Peace, peace. PCS says, and prosperity. But at what price?


The rise of China is leading to some really difficult questions for


Taiwan. Does this island have any choice but to hitch its economic


future to its giant neighbour? Well that ensure Taiwan's continued


prosperity, or will it threatened the island's hard-won freedoms?


Taiwan's opposition fears China could dominate Taiwan, threaten its


democracy. China is a source of uncertainties for the region and


for Taiwan as well. Since the civil war split, the two have taken very


different paths. China insists it will take Taiwan by force if


necessary. In China the political system remains frozen. President Hu


Jintao will this way -- will this year make way for a new Communist


leader to be chosen by the party in secret. But can Taiwan influence


China? Yes, it can, says this man, who did -- Hutu decades ago was a


leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.


I have been hearing this so much from Chinese tourists, who say when


will the day come for us so that we can choose? -- our own leaders?


Communist Party says China is not ready or suited for democracy.


Taiwan hopes its example can prove otherwise. Many here fear the


independence they now enjoy could be crushed asked China rises.


It was supposed to be heading to Mars to take rock samples from one


of the Red Planet's moons but some time this weekend the Russian


spacecraft -- spacecraft Phobos- Grunt is expected to come crashing


back to earth following a serious malfunction. No one knows when it


will return, or more importantly, where it will hit, but its imminent


re-entry has highlighted the increasing danger of space debris


as undersides correspondent David Shukman reports. -- as a science


correspondent reports. A swarm of dots circling the Earth,


15,002 are all rockets and other junk. An orbiting rubbish dump


created after half-a-century of space flight. Last November a


Russian launch added yet another piece of debris. The mission was


meant to fly to Mars. We did get off the ground but something went


wrong and now the Russians believe their spacecraft will crash back


into the Indian Ocean. But no one can be sure. From experience it is


difficult, almost impossible at this stage, to predict exactly when


and where the object will come in. To be able to say at this stage you


have to control the aircraft and we don't believe they have control of


it. So what will happen to the spacecraft? It is orbiting every 90


minutes between 51 degrees north and 51 degrees south, so it could


land anywhere in between, most likely in the ocean. But the zone


just includes southern England below the M4 corridor. Most of the


spacecraft will burn up as it falls to earth but some components matter


more than others. The tanks, filled with fuel for the long journey to


Mars, should leak and burn off long before they reach the surface. The


moment European spacecraft blew up while falling to earth. This was


meant to happen and generally there is very little risk to anyone on


the ground. The bigger danger is space junk damaging the satellites


that we depend on. Anything, even as small as a cherry, going up


17,500 miles an hour, which they are going around in orbit, but can


be similar to an explosion of a hand grenade right next to your


satellites and even a small pieces caused problems. The Russian


spacecraft was designed to land on Bob Ross, and of Mars. -- on Phobos.


It would have been a scientific triumph. Instead the world is now


waiting for a crash. Let's hope that debris lands in the


ocean. Now the main stories, which has


been confirmed. While we have been on air. The French Finance Minister


has confirmed that his country has lost its triple-A credit rating,


the Standard and Poor's agency has cut fans's rating by an entire


point to just do Belem. -- France. The finance minister has said there


will be no new austerity measures despite the downgrade. Very


disappointing news for France, Justin. Next, the weather. From me,


Zeinab Badawi, goodbye and enjoy Hello, you got the idea today. Keep


the thought in your head. It is the sort of weather we will get through


the weekend. A widespread frost tonight but tomorrow the first


lifts and we will get spells of bright winter sunshine in most


areas. High pressure dominating the scene across the UK, keeping the


mild Atlantic air at bay. It will be the case over the weekend and


into the early part of next week. The frost clears. There will be fog


which will take a little time to clear that it should eventually go.


Patchy cloud at times in the west of the UK but across northern


England and the eastern side of England, long spells of sunshine


into the afternoon. Not particularly warm. Six Celsius in


London, near the January average. More of a breeze across south-west


London -- across south-west England and Wales, just drifting some cloud


through. Keeping temperatures higher, seven or eight Celsius.


Across mid-Wales, temperatures stay below freezing. The Northern


Ireland, not a bad day, the cloud will break up to allow spells of


sunshine through but the breeze will make it feel chilly, coming in


from the south-east. Six Celsius. Cloud across western Scotland and


across the higher ground temperatures remaining below


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